Saturday, May 7, 2011

Stone Carving Tools

Cari Amici (Dear Friends),

So, here is a brief peek into my little world out in the woods. I am continuing work on my marble “Gymnast.” While I have never been good about names and labels, I will try to use the proper terms for equipment here as I share with you some of my tools.

I bought a pneumatic die grinder with an extension tube at the front, as shown in this first image. Into that I added a double-cut carbide grinding tool connected to a 6-inch shaft. That is about as much reaching as I know how to do, other than to use a Fordham (and I think I broke mine some time ago). But even a Fordham might be of limited use since it has a flexible shaft. I need something rigid that not only will reach the distances I need, but help me push the tool into the marble to carve it. This is especially important since I cannot get even one finger into some of these areas between the figure’s torso and her thighs.

I hope it is obvious from this first image that the main difficulty in carving down into the negative space of the body in a pike position is that the gymnast’s head is in the way! This second image shows you what I really do not even get to see when I am carving (vs. photographing). I am reaching down between the face (upper left) and right arm (bottom of image) and trying to carve a deeper crease between the figure’s legs, just above her knees. It is like hiking in a snowy cave!

This third image shows a right angle die grinder … a Home Depot item with a great warranty. I have traded in two of these babies over the years for a brand new replacement! This stone carving tool also has a double-cut carbide tip with a 6-inch shaft on it. Fantastic helpers, but not many choices in tip shapes unless I am willing to wait and pay for a special order. Patience is rarely one of my virtues!

And even though I cannot always see what I am carving, I still like to draw on the stone to help me delineate various anatomical forms. Something to aim for! A straight pencil with a tapered tip will simply not leave a mark on the stone inside this narrow crevice. In this last image, you may see my thumb up against the figure’s eye as I am holding a specialized scissors that hold a pencil between its front claws. These teeth in the scissors are not designed to hold something as thick as a pencil, but it was all I could think to use. So, I bend the pencil in an angle that I think I want and squeeze the scissor handles very tightly so that I do not lose my pencil when I move down into my “well” of a workspace.

Really, I hope that I can pull this off! What are your favorite tools – for stone carving or any task?

Happy birthday, John! And thank you for showing me a lot about tools.